South Africa v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Port Elizabeth, 4th day

The cycle begins again for NZ

New Zealand's performances against South Africa suggest they are back to the starting blocks in Test cricket

Firdose Moonda in Port Elizabeth

January 14, 2013

Comments: 41 | Text size: A | A

Dale Steyn is mobbed after removing BJ Watling, South Africa v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Port Elizabeth, 4th day, January 14, 2013
New Zealand's batsmen failed to string together long partnerships to provide resistance against South Africa © Associated Press
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The development of a butterfly has four stages. It starts as an egg, grows into a caterpillar, enters a metamorphosing pupa phase and, finally, becomes a grown adult. If Brendon McCullum's theory is to be believed, New Zealand are still eggs.

"This team and its life cycle is different to the South African team," he said, before glumly admitting that he could not think of a time when they had been fully formed. "It would have been a fair few years ago, I guess. There have been constant changes, be it for injuries or other reasons. This team is pretty young, as a group we haven't been exposed to such hostile cricket before."

To ask McCullum to remember the home triumphs over India and West Indies in 2002, or the win over Australia in Hobart last summer, or the recent win over Sri Lanka in Colombo, may be inappropriate in the aftermath of two crushing defeats. But his inability to recall a time when New Zealand had a solid grip over Test cricket seems to point to a harsher reality about their status.

McCullum is correct in his explanation of his team now because they exit this series as a unit searching for a beginning. With a batting line-up unable to hold their own, and bowlers who are constantly under strain because of that, the wide lens would say New Zealand have to start from scratch. The zoom will reveal more specific points for restructure.

The opening partnership has already been discussed, and in defeat McCullum conceded that is in area that will be reviewed. "We have to confront the new ball with some steel and some resolve," he said. But it is not the only area that could face overhaul.

New Zealand do not have a top six any bowling attack in the world would be nervous of. Occasionally, as BJ Watling and Dean Brownlie showed, they are able to put together a partnership or two. But those stands do not threaten; they merely irritate.

Once they are broken, the roadblock clears itself en masse, as Graeme Smith explained: "They were able to put small partnerships together but once we had broken through, we were able to run through them." New Zealand did not have a single century stand in the series, with their highest being 98 between Brownlie and Watling in this match. They had three half-century partnerships across the two matches.

Popular opinion is that the return of Ross Taylor will go a long way to changing that. Taylor is regarded among New Zealand's best batsmen and even if he does not come back to lead them (which seems to be the case), his contributions to the run chart will be needed. Taylor is due to play first-class cricket in the lead-up to the England series, which has been earmarked as his comeback.

McCullum is looking forward to it but spoke about it in the same way the England camp described Kevin Pietersen's return. "Reintegration must be smooth. I am sure he wants to come back and do well for New Zealand," he said. His choice of the R-word was interesting because, unlike Pietersen, Taylor was not the main protagonist in his own demise.

 
 
"We trained hard but the ability to transfer that on to game day is what we need to work on. We've also got a pretty good blueprint of how the best team in the world goes about their business" Brendon McCullum
 

Poor communication and the coach, Mike Hesson's lack of faith in his ability to captain led to him being left out, not shenanigans like text messages and being a cause of dressing-room disharmony. Many of New Zealand's players support Taylor - Martin Guptill, whose Twitter profile picture is of the two of them together, most obviously. Even Hesson, who has had differences with Taylor, admits that the team would be stronger with him in it.

If Taylor's return is a given, New Zealand's line-up will have a more solid look to it. McCullum will ponder moving down the order and there may be a move to bring Luke Ronchi in to keep wicket so BJ Watling can be promoted up the line-up. A certain amount of toying with combinations will be needed to get the best six in order, but it does not seem an impossible ask.

The bowling department is a simple puzzle for New Zealand to solve. Tim Southee will return to fitness soon, giving them back the leader of the attack, and Trent Boult was impressive in South Africa. Their veteran seamer Chris Martin said he believes Southee, Boult and Bracewell will form the pack that will take New Zealand into the future. If they all click, they could form a formidable trio.

Questions will still be asked of the spinner. Jeetan Patel may end up fighting Bruce Martin for a place. Todd Astle is also in the mix as is Tarun Nethula, but given New Zealand's other talking points, this one may fall slightly under the radar.

The tactics will definitely change but McCullum is warning against sweeping personnel changes because it will affect team culture. "There needs to be a little bit of change, but at the same time have to protect the core of the group," he said. "Players have come over here and learnt from the best. We are trying to find the right balance."

In experimentation, New Zealand have ended up falling to some of their heftiest defeats, but McCullum said there were things they could take out of the South Africa trip, like commitment to the cause. "I can't fault the preparation. It's hard to replicate facing guys like Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel in the nets but I can't fault the efforts. We trained hard but the ability to transfer that on to game day is what we need to work on. We've also got a pretty good blueprint of how the best team in the world goes about their business."

Something McCullum will want to take note of is that the current No. 1 side also started as eggs. They spent years in the interim phases, building for what they have achieved now. Some of that time was spent in frustration, some of it was in losing, but through consistency, South Africa learnt to turn that around. From being defeated, they turned into being defensive and eventually were able to transform that to winning. That is the kind of cycle New Zealand will want to replicate.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by mux164 on (January 16, 2013, 10:05 GMT)

ronchi is a far better bet than watling, safer with the gloves and the bat, just hasnt had as much batting

Posted by Vindaliew on (January 15, 2013, 16:36 GMT)

South Africa might have started as eggs, but never have they looked as vulnerable as New Zealand even at their strongest post-Hadlee. Sir Richard almost single-handedly made them competitive in the 80s, and the loss of Shane Bond, their only world-class bowler who would have made it into a World XI, was really tragic. New Zealand try really hard and have a good spirit, but don't really seem to have any consistent anchors to build the team around - McCullum and Taylor are fighters, but do not dominate the bowling often enough, while Williamson, for all his undoubted ability, lacks a certain presence. Even the West Indies at their most heartbreaking nadir had Chanderpaul, Sarwan and Gayle who could change a match for them occasionally. Here's hoping they turn things around really fast, but - no real shame in being thrashed by a South African unit who would most likely have thrashed anyone in world cricket right now.

Posted by tplynui on (January 15, 2013, 16:10 GMT)

for me it was totally embarassing watching my beloved black caps getdestroyed this series we need a new opening partnership taylor ryder vettori southee back with the inclusion of ronchi why not look at someone like sinclair to open avg 48 at first class level give him one last crack rutherford munro could do with more time to develope my test team watling brownlie mccullum taylor ryder williamson ronchi vettori southee boult milne i will have milne over bracewell simply koz hes fast brownlie to open as an experimentation with sinclair to come in if that fails

Posted by Tigg on (January 15, 2013, 14:35 GMT)

I think the Kiwis need to realise that McCullum is not good enough to play as a batsman alone. Give him back the gloves, and stick him down the order so he comes in when the ball is older and he can play aggressively without needing to worry about the moving ball.

A middle order of Williamson, Taylor, Ryder,Watling and McCullum looks like a pretty solid no.s 3-7. Vettori (or other spinner if he is injured), Southee, Bracewell and Boult complete the bowling attack (Ryder and Williamson can be the 5th bowler). All you need is to find a stable opening partnership (Guptill and ...?).

At the very least leave Watling in the gloves. If you want him up the order move him, dont bring in anotehr keeper as they are typically weaker batsmen.

Posted by Soso_killer on (January 15, 2013, 8:56 GMT)

New Zealand will bounce back they are a proud nation full of fighters as well.

Posted by ygkd on (January 15, 2013, 7:43 GMT)

On the subject of small population and, thus, a small talent pool - yes, NZ is similar to Victoria or NSW. But let's not kid ourselves that the more populous Australian states don't waste talent. Of course they do. If they handled things better, they could produce even more players. Trinidad and Tobago, at times, would beat NZ. T&T's population and economy is hardly NZ's equal. Population mass helps cover lazy admin, coaching and selection, but as India shows it doesn't manage entirely to gloss over all the ails. NZ have done well before and they can consistently do well again, but before that can happen serious changes must be made.

Posted by ygkd on (January 15, 2013, 7:29 GMT)

NZ cricket looks about as flat as Zeeland, and most parts of that Dutch province are only kept out of water by dykes. NZ cricket, sans Vettori, Tayor and Southee, has nothing to keep anyone or anything at bay. The 20-year olds currently doing the rounds of the Plunkett Shield obviously need a better standard of competition in order to meet the coming challenges. Batting averages obtained in the PS are clearly not worth the paper they're written on. Maybe there's too much T20, but NZ teams have hardly set the world on fire in the Champions League either. I think its time for an Australasian competition where Kiwis can be tested more. By that I don't mean that Oz has all the answers. I think NZ cricket would be far better served by appointing some of their own to senior coaching positions. However, it is only in a stronger domestic competition with different conditions that the opportunities for real improvement shall come. And by picking the right ones to give those opportunities to.

Posted by kiwicricketnut on (January 15, 2013, 7:25 GMT)

surprised williamson doesn't come under fire for his failings, he has real trouble with balls bowled on a 5th stump line, balls he doesn't even need to play at, nowhere near his stumps yet keeps knicking them. 3 centuries at 21 and clearly the future of our batting line up we will persivere with him for some time yet but needs to sort it soon, england will know where to target him. I'd like to see him serve an apprenticeship further down the order. XI for england mccullum, rutherford, brownlie, taylor, ryder(carl cachopa) williamson, watling, astle, southee, milne, boult. Actually perfer sohdi as a spinner but astle being a former opener might steel up the lower order a bit and actually turns the ball same can't be said for vettori, guptil had to go and leave watling where he's performing, milne adds strike power to compliment the swing of southee and boult, bracewell wasn't cutting it, got to do better surely.

Posted by Ashish328 on (January 15, 2013, 6:25 GMT)

It is actually T20 which is spoiling the batsmen techniquies more than anything else, since the retirement of flemming, astle, mccmilan , and moreover now ross taylor is also not playing , kiwis which was once my one the fav. team has gone down in all the three formats !! they need to find the real talent !!

Posted by cardassian on (January 15, 2013, 5:09 GMT)

@cricketlord2011 Ryder is playing for Wellington not Central Districts. As for this going "...back over a decade..." to when he wasn't picked in his early 20s well that's just incorrect. Ryder is 28, a decade ago he was 18. You are correct he is snubbing NZ cricket though, probably because they mistreated him like they've mistreated Taylor.

Posted by Sugath on (January 15, 2013, 4:12 GMT)

When you refuse to acknowledge the good things done by predecessors and create acrimony through unwarranted comments on the previous Skipper who had done great service, put so much anxiety on the team members, then you begin with no hope. That is what happened to Kiwis. The coach must take most of the blame for this state of affairs. You cannot create a winning combination by dividing the players.

Posted by pt_pt on (January 15, 2013, 2:58 GMT)

The answer for next test seris against England is simple: McCullum Watling Taylor Williamson Ryder Brownlie Ronchi Vettori Bracewell Southee Boult. If Ryder cant play, then Redmond/Rutherford. I think most black caps fans would agree, Lets hope the selectos have some sense.

Posted by vrn59 on (January 15, 2013, 2:04 GMT)

My NZ XI: Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum (C), Kane Williamson, Jesse Ryder, Ross Taylor, BJ Watling, Luke Ronchi (wk), Daniel Vettori, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Chris Martin. 12th man: Doug Bracewell.

Guptill needs to work on his skills (technique, especially the ability to leave the new ball), but he's still one of the best New Zealand's got. McCullum and Taylor are NZ's best players best on form, and they are world-class. Ryder is probably the most talented batsman in this team, and if he can show good temperament, he will be a huge asset to this lineup. Williamson and Watling are both extremely promising and gritty Test players, Ronchi deserves a go behind the wickets (he's a decent batsman at No. 7). Vettori's return from injury will provide some control for the attack. Martin has got the experience, Southee (once he's fit again) is a really good swing bowler and can bat a bit down the order and Boult provides handy left-arm variety. Bracewell is a good bowler too.

Posted by cheesemethod on (January 15, 2013, 2:02 GMT)

This backs up my idea that NZ should be playing more test cricket against a more equal opposition like bangladesh, firstly to build a solid team and secondly to build confidence in the top order. Im not sure what facilities NZC high performance offer but from memory Cricket Australia has bowling units that emulate the pace and style of opposition. I dont know how the top order train but it feels like they need to work overtime with a bowling machine against a pace of 150kms to become used to it and then they can focus on the ball movement when playing. Our bowling attack just isn't aggressive enough to use as preparation for the top order. Also whats happening with the likes of Adam Milne? Is he been groomed and looked after by NZC to be used in the future?

Posted by   on (January 15, 2013, 1:58 GMT)

The solution to NZ cricket lies in relying on their big brother Australia. The strengh of a nation's first class cricket league is a very strong indication in how it will perform in the test arena. Unfortunately, NZ's first class cricket setup is very weak, and this is why NZ is being bundled out for such low scores. NZ cricket should have talks with ACB about incorporating some of the NZ first class teams in to the competitive Sheffield Shield. NZ vs Aus rivalry is very fierce, and I know kiwis relish the challenge in beating Aus in sport. If this doesnt work, then a 2 league round the robin test series is the only solution. (top 3 teams in 1 league and rest in league 2 with relegation/promotion after every 2-3 yrs) Other issues to be addressed are: a: The lack of interest in NZ cricket by its public as opposed to NZ All Black Rugby. b: NZ playing the least amount of test cricket among the test nations. Major problem if the game is to develop for NZ. c: Infrastructure issues.

Posted by spesh on (January 15, 2013, 1:47 GMT)

"There needs to be a little bit of change, but at the same time have to protect the core of the group," Please tell me why 624/40 at an average of 15.6 per wicket needs to be protected?

SA are a good side who in my opinion are on the verge of becoming great. Just like the Australian side of 2001 who was met by a prepared, resolute and unified NZ side who drew the series (and almost won!). Shane Bond was perhaps the only world class player Vs a team of world class players yet we competed because Rixon & Fleming combined did everything right.

Unlike Brendon I believe it is time for a clean-out. It starts from the top with the bizarre Buchannan role overseeing the coach. John should take the reigns from Hesson or leave. Williamson to captain as the other two options have splintered the group. Fleming wasn't much older when he began. Then lets get the most talented available on the park. Rutherford, Watling, Willamson, Taylor, Ryder, McCullum, Ronchi, Vettori, Southee, Bracewell, Boult

Posted by cricfan_aus on (January 15, 2013, 1:47 GMT)

What NZ needs to do is to go to India for a test series, that will for sure bring confidence to the team after beating india on their home soil. It also reminds them that they are not the worst test team now.

Posted by hussainD on (January 15, 2013, 1:42 GMT)

and as MrLongNamed-Maverick and several others have pointed out, there's no dearth of talent. Actually, I think this is probably the most talented pool of cricketers ever in NZ's history. (though, obviously, that is moot and can be argued to death; kindly refrain. Or not.)

Ryder needs to come back, please. The word 'reintegration' ought to be used for him. He's smashing bowlers in domestic, I know not what the Kiwi board is waiting for. A public apology? Dammit! And Taylor, also. Just get 'em bak.

Watling's shown steel; and good technique. Ronchi means McCullum can focus on batting & bolster middle-order or even take up the gloves/

Guptill needs fine tuning but Williamson & Brownlie are two solid batters.

And the bowling attack. That's really exciting. Southee is solid. Boult is good; even McClenaghn (or however u spell). Wagner is good back-up. In spin, you gotta stick to Vettori until someone comes along. And you guys are never short of all-rounders. Don't know whats the issue

Posted by SameOld on (January 15, 2013, 0:46 GMT)

Lay off Guptill. If he was at #5 or #6, his average would be much better. He manned up and took on the new ball when no-one else was willing or able, and has made a better fist of it than McCullum, Flynn, McIntosh, Redmond, or any of the other "openers" we've tried in the past few years. Watling or Brownlie would both struggle at the top, too. That said, Guptill needs to locate his off stump, and a reliable single. Only when leaves outside off and rotates strike does he look like he belongs at this level. Same goes for Baz.

Best XI: Guptill, Baz, Williamson, Taylor, Ryder, Brownlie, BJ, Vettori, Bracewell, Southee, Boult.

Doesn't look like we'll have Dan or Jesse for ENG, so swap in Bruce Martin and Ronchi, moving BJ up to 5. Spare bowlers Phantom & McClenaghan. Spare batsman Munro.

What we'll actually see is Flynn and Patel holding their places in the name of "stability", with Franklin back in when he's fit. Rubbish selections.

Posted by   on (January 15, 2013, 0:23 GMT)

I'm losing confidence in Bracewell, and would go for Milne or McLenaghan instead to give more pace. Agree with SixFourOut about the value of strength in depth.

Posted by SameOld on (January 15, 2013, 0:14 GMT)

Hand the captaincy back to Taylor. Sure, he was conservative & was learning the ropes. His bowlers only began to give him reason to believe within the last 12 months or so & nobody has any faith in the NZ batting line-up, so who can blame him? Remember the young Graeme Smith as captain? Pretty conservative, no? Seems to have worked out for SA... Baz should be fighting for his place, not making decisions on other players.

The #1 thing NZ need is still 5 or 6 session innings' with the bat. Occupy the crease, make the opposition *take* your wicket. If we're not going to score many runs (face it, we're not), we need to at least apply time pressure. Bat for half a Test & a loss becomes draw. We know we can win sessions or even a day here & there. Let's get to day 5, then see if we can pull out a big performance (Hobart, anyone?).

And for the love of Pete, do whatever it takes to get Ryder back in Black. Now.

It seems none of this will happen with Hesson at the helm. Ditch him.

Posted by CoorparooMaverick on (January 14, 2013, 23:53 GMT)

the quality is there for NZ cricket and there is a great neuclius of talent, Taylor, Wiliamson, Ryder (when he's ready to come back), Watling, McCullum, Vettori, Bracewell, Boult and SOuthee. that is 9 quality players of which there is only 1 player over 32. if NZ can find two openers, and i mean openers who aim to bat through the first session without loss no matter what the score, then if this team is kept to gether it could be great in a couple of years. Guptil, bless, the NZ version of Shane Watson, just doesn't have the technique to open in tests. keep this group together and NZ will go a long way to redeeming it reputation.

Posted by   on (January 14, 2013, 23:44 GMT)

I think the biggest problem is our first-class scene. Players may take stacks of wickets and make truck-loads of runs in our first class competition, but they find the intensity and consistency required at Test Level is beyond them. Perhaps a solution would be to put together North and South Island teams and join, if possible, the Australian first class scene. This would provide our best players the opportunity to compete in a robust environment. As to the infrastructure of our cricket and the culture of our game, it appears sick - divisive, eletist, inept, and unprofessional. Changing that will be harder.

Posted by   on (January 14, 2013, 23:34 GMT)

I am an Austrlian resident, but I am very confused why Taylor was replaced as captain of the NZ team. I would like to see their team against England include Watling, Brownlee, Taylor and Ronchi. Guptill, Flynn and Williamson will struggle against a very good England seam attack. Munro looks a handy and gutsy cricketer, who could possibly also be used as a fifth bowler. Patel was disappointing against RSA and has to be replaced. They also need to improve their coaching structure, because their batting apart from Watling and Brownlee was inept.

Posted by SixFourOut on (January 14, 2013, 23:04 GMT)

I've said it once and I'll say it again - NZ are only as strong as their 7,8,9 batting. They have only ever been competitive when they have had guys coming in late who can make runs. They will ALWAYS be 150 for 5 but the difference when you had Oram,Vettori,MacCullum,Cairns,Nash, who could turn the score into 350 all out......................................................................................Flynn has done nothing ever, anywhere and if you did a straight swap of Flynn and Williamson with Taylor and Ryder and put MacCullum at seven with Vettori back, you'd have quite a different side.

Posted by cricketlord2011 on (January 14, 2013, 22:51 GMT)

Ryder is playing for Central Districts, and has an IPL contract therefore he is fine to play but is snubbing NZ cricket as he no longer needs it. This stems back over a decade to when he was unhappy that he wasn't picked in his early 20s due to disciplinary problems. If he didn't have an IPL contract, I guarantee he would be playing for NZ. NZ administration need to meet with Taylor, sort out the grievances maturely and ensure he is in the team for the England series - perhaps even offer the vice captaincy although I doubt he'd want it. Patel & Flynn are well blow the mark for test cricket and should be permanently omitted, whilst Munro looks more promising but is not ready to bat at 7 in a test line up and should not be picked for his bowling alone. NZ test team, minus Ryder who refuses to make himself available, and presuming injury recovery, should be 1: Guptill 2: Watling 3: Williamson 4: Taylor 5: McCullum 6: Brownlie 7: Ronchi 8: Vettori 9: Southee 10: Boult 11: Bracewell

Posted by Robster1 on (January 14, 2013, 22:37 GMT)

And keep Chris Martin in the squad for the big series v England. His experience will be invaluable and if called upon he'll again do a solid job. Wagner just looks like a pie thrower. Thrown in Ryder, Taylor, Vettori and absolutely Ronchi and NZ have the basis of a competitive side. They'll need it against a very strong England.

Posted by Bishop on (January 14, 2013, 21:50 GMT)

NZs problem is we haven't had a genuine opener since Mark Richardson. Even Guptill is (I believe) better suited to number three. Instead we wreck (potentially) quality middle order batsmen by playing them too high. Williamson should bat lower if he is indeed the our future in the long game so we can protect him a bit. With the opening combinations we've had, number 3 is basically an opener anyway. Please don't move Watling who is the only thing in the batting lineup that worked, but rather look elsewhere. NZ must have a gritty, unattractive, slow-scoring blocker in the style of Richardson somewhere? Don't they?

Posted by   on (January 14, 2013, 20:21 GMT)

I think people are missing th point considering Jesse Ryder. it snot that they arent picking him, he doesnt actually ant to plat and has made himself unavailable.

Dont mind BMac opening, but only if theres a solid middle order behind him so he can play freely. Guptill needs to go, technically not equiped for test cricket. We need to just play 4 seamers, even on spinner friendly wickets its the seamers that take wickets. Watliong to open and Ronchi to keep seems a certainty for england.

Posted by   on (January 14, 2013, 20:18 GMT)

"Many of NZ's players support Taylor" - actually that is not the case. One has shown his support (Guptill) but do a bit more homework. Taylor showed little faith in his bowlers with the fields he set and his decisions at the toss. Taylor was an inexperienced captain, thown in at the deep and this came through in the matches where he was skipper.

Posted by reywob on (January 14, 2013, 19:58 GMT)

The team for England-Watling,Redmond,McCullum,taylor,Brownlie,Williamson,Ronchi,Vettori,Southee,Bracewell,Boult Redmond is the highest run scorer this season in 4 day matches-Dont use Rutherford jnr till next season,dont destroy his talent like they did with his Dad by using him to early,Unless the team can accept Ryder and the things that come with him I dont see him playing anytime soon.Funny we didnt use B Martin in the last test and the left arm spinner for SA did pretty well-Patel,Franklin,C Martin should never play for NZ again.

Posted by Lermy on (January 14, 2013, 19:40 GMT)

Actually Sam Brady the NZ player depth and facilities are less than a state side. Brendon Diamanti went to WA to coach a club, and said the club side set-ups are light years ahead of NZ first class set-ups. To prove the point he played a few games in the HRV cup after only coaching club sides in WA, and was a high impact player. Its not just the lack of NZs overall population, its the fact that far less people are now playing cricket, given the migrants from asia and pacific islands. But maybe in time there will be a recovery of sorts. There are so many Saffers and indians moving to NZ for a better or safer life style and place to raise their kids, so they may eventually take up the game in NZ.

Posted by SyBorgg71 on (January 14, 2013, 19:33 GMT)

Fellow New Zealander...I expect a country of 4 million to compete just the same as they compete in Rugby where from the same resource pool we are still world #1 and world champions. What our test cricket team needs is a complete overhaul. McCullum should keep wicket and this will aloow an additional batsman (similar to the structures of many of the teams in world cricket). If he wants to be selected as a batsman only then he needs to earn his place as one. His current average of 32 is due to him batting at 6 or 7. As an opener he would be lucky to be in the high teens. Next bring back Ross Taylor as captain. Test cricket is a game of patience. Taylor has that, McCullum doesn't. Sure aggression has it's place but it has to be timed right otherwise you end up with 47 eggs on your face. Ryder needs to be encouraqged back. So what if he is a naughty boy? I would rather put up with his antics than go through this humiliation again. Next I would bring in Dave Richardson as the batting coach.

Posted by   on (January 14, 2013, 19:31 GMT)

No, no, no! Watling has just scored two consecutive 50s (the last man other than Taylor to do that? I can't think of who it might be...) batting in the middle order. Don't move him.

McCullum has shown that he does not have the technique to be a Test opener nor the tactical brain to captain the side.

Talking about the lack of numbers misses the point. Other than in the Hadlee era and perhaps when we had Bond as well, nobody ever expected NZ to win, but they always expected us to be stubborn as hell and fighters. We can no longer boast such traits.

Adam Milne needs to be brought into the team and told to bowl in three-over bursts as fast as he can at the batsmen's body. Patel needs to go and Astle persevered with.

Rutherford, Guptill, Williamson, Taylor (c), Cachopa, McCullum, Watling(+), Vettori, Southee, Boult, Milne/Bracewell. Ryder to replace Cachopa when he's available.

Posted by InnocentGuy on (January 14, 2013, 19:01 GMT)

@Sam Brady, that is hardly an excuse. There is no shortage of talent. There is no shortage of infrastructure. NZ probably has way better facilities than any subcontinent countries. What I see as a problem is attitude. The same issue Indian team currently has. While India is arrogant, NZ is nonchalant. Unless there's a will to compete and try and win, and this is not just from the players but from the entire cricketing fraternity including the board and coaches and everybody, there's not going to be any beginnings, let alone progress.

Posted by mrwolverine on (January 14, 2013, 18:20 GMT)

Luke Ronchi coming in is the best possible option. BJ Walting is a gutsy bat and should be promoted to opening as he does in ODIs. Getting Jesse Ryder back is possibly the best bet but it seems unlikely at this point. 3. Kane Williamson 4. Ross Taylor 5. Jesse Ryder/Dean Browlie 6.Brandon Mcclum 7.Luke Ronchi 8. Vettori 9.Tim Southee 10.Bracewll 11.Boult ...Notice Mcclumm and Ronchi batting together @ 6 and 7 could be a great option. Both are aggressive and could cause problems for the england bowlers once the shine is lost on the ball. Kane Williamson needs to buck up. He is very talented bat. Perhaps a couple of calls to Rahul Dravid might help him. When I see him, thats who I think of. In this lineup, you have batting all the way to No. 10. The top 7 mentioned is what I think could be the best option for them. Any team needs to win at home first and they should be able to. They have the talent. They just need the confidence.

Posted by Whatsgoinoffoutthere on (January 14, 2013, 17:54 GMT)

> "...in defeat McCullum conceded that is in area that will > be reviewed. "We have to confront the new ball with > some steel and some resolve," he said."

So that's not you then Brendan :)

@ Sam Brady - I'm an England fan & I have said that about NZ population myself in the past, but as you say it isn't a complete let-off. Sri Lanka won the World Cup during a civil war. West Indies have to organise all those countries into one united team. Bangladesh have very limited funds. Everyone has their problems (look at 1990s England!). However, NZ have alienated their best batsman, used their best 'keeper/bat as a specialist opener, given the other 'keeper/bat (who has never made a first-class stumping) the gloves in a Test despite him having shown good intent as a batsman, let their best spinner go to the IPL (and predictably he's now injured) and banished Ryder (their 2nd best batsman).

This is just inept. Are the largest flaws not on the field but behind the scenes?

Posted by Erebus26 on (January 14, 2013, 17:53 GMT)

@Sam Brady - Ryder needs to have his head in the right place and to be enjoying his cricket. It may be some time until he's back playing for NZ. There was a lot of frustration that Ross Taylor didn't put his feelings aside and go to South africa but i put that down to fans getting hacked off by the poor display the Black Caps batsmen showed in the tests. His return to the batting line-up is a must need, as is Vettori who, despite being past his best, is still a better spinner than any of his rivals and adds meat to the middle order batting. Guptill, Flynn, Franklin and Patel all need to go, and McCullum needs to go down the order. Baz gets a lot of stick but he's only opening because NZ haven't got anybody else knocking on the door. His ideal game is coming in at no. 5 or 6 either to keep the score moving or to counter-punch. I do think a lot of people need to get off his back though. Who can open - would Tim McIntosh be worth another punt, what about Jeet Raval and Rutherford jnr?

Posted by kingsmead_mamba on (January 14, 2013, 17:19 GMT)

@sam brady. Stop blaming your population or lack thereof. In the past nz with a smaller population did better than whats been on show. You guys have one batsman who will walk into the protea side, but he is relaxing at home. Bring your best team then talk about how u guys do well given your population.

Posted by   on (January 14, 2013, 16:23 GMT)

I am a new zealander.. i dont understand how people expect a country of 4 million people to have any chance of competing with countries that number in the 100s or millions if not billions (india). We do alright. I treat the New Zealand team like Victoria or New South Wales. That is about our cricket playing pool of players. I think we do okay, but at the top end that 5 percent extra is EVERYTHING. We do okay for our population The problem for new zealand is for many years we hit above our weight. In cricket this is possible from time to time when cricket is a game that 1-2 individuals (richard hadlee, martin crowe, glenn turner, shane bond) can make a MASSIVE difference. Ie brian lara for many years for West Indies. Currently our bowlers need experience and without Ryder and Taylor we do not have a backbone. Get ryder back.. people barely mention him, but him and taylor add a backbone that is missing. Ryder is hard to handle.. but wasnt botham?

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